George Shuba then
Shuba, the youngest of 10 children, grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, in a family of Czechoslovakian descent. He developed a love for baseball at six years old. Instead of playing in an organized little league, he and the neighbor kids played ball right in the street.
He attended Catholic grammar school at Holy Name Elementary in Youngstown. He recalls the nuns being very strict, which helped him become disciplined at a young age. His brother was a priest, so he was constantly surrounded by Catholic influences.
George Shuba now
Before every meal, Shuba and his family would recite a Slovak prayer — a tradition started by his mother and brother. He continued to say this prayer each day during his baseball career and still carries on the tradition to this day.
In the mid-1940s when young men were being shipped around the globe during World War II, Shuba was dealt a different hand. He sustained an ear injury while being disciplined by one of his teachers as a child, so he was unable to enter the U.S. Army. Instead, Shuba attended an open Dodgers’ tryout in 1943 at age 17, after finding out about it from his friends on the street.
“They said, ‘George, you should go try out at Borts Field (Youngstown). You’re good enough.’” Shuba said. “I really didn’t think I was, but I went and hit a few out of bounds and a couple of fouls out of the park.”
Though Shuba signed with the Dodgers following his tryout, his father, Jan, was not on board with the decision to pursue a lofty career path. Jan worked at the mills in Youngstown, a steel-manufacturing town.
“He (Jan) wanted me to work at the mills where I could have a steady job,” Shuba said. “But I had dreams of being a professional ball player. I really believed I could.”
Shuba worked on his swing every night by hanging a rope from his ceiling and tying knots to represent the strike zone.
“I would swing a 44-ounce bat 500 times a night between the knots,” Shuba said. “When it came to batting practice the next day, I was already ready!”
Shuba gained a reputation for hitting hard line drives all over the field. According to Roger Kahn in his book, The Boys of Summer, the nickname “Shotgun” evolved from Shuba’s “spraying line drives with a swing so compact that it appeared as natural as a smile.”
Check out George “Shotgun”Shuba website at http://www.georgeshuba.com/bookcover.shtml
Ref: http://thetablet.org/faith-inspires-shotgun-shubas-baseball-dream/ OOTdevelopments’s first picture.
Getting back to my project of doing a post on all the surviving Brooklyn Dodgers.
This one is #12 of 42 going from oldest to youngest.
Tim Thompson then
Charles Lemoine Thompson (Tim) was a catcher. He was born in Coalport, PA on March 1, 1924. His debut was on April 20, 1954 and his final Game April 27, 1958. He wore uniform #21.
Thompson was finally called up to Ebbets Field with the Dodgers for the first time at age 30 in 1954. He talked about his big league debut. “My first game was the only time I ever played in the outfield. It was in St. Louis. Dick Williams was ejected, and I was the only one left on the bench. Steve Bilko lined a single and I thought I nailed Dick Schofield at the plate with a good throw, but he slid between Roy Campanella’s legs to score. I kidded Campy that if he had blocked the plate I would have been a hero.”
Tim, who had just two base hits in 13 at-bats for the Dodgers would spend the rest of the year with the Montreal Royals hitting .305 in 75 games. He spent 1955 with the St. Paul Saints of the American Association, hitting .313 and catching 121 games. This got him traded to the Kansas City Athletics on April 16, 1956 for Tom Saffell, Lee Wheat and cash. Thompson spent 1956 and 1957 with the Kansas City Athletics and would finish out his major league run with he Detroit Tigers in 1958 with a career .238 batting average in 187 games. He also finished with a fine fielding percentage of .990.
Thompson would spend the remainder of his active baseball career with the AAA Toronto Maple Leafs retiring from active play after 1962 with a 14 year minor league career .293 batting average in 1,426 games and a fielding percentage of .991.
Tim Thompson now
Following a few years as a player-coach and manager at Toronto, he was a scout and later a supervisor of scouting for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1964 to 1994. He spent the rest of the 1990s in the Dodgers organization as a scout and since 2000 he has worked in the same capacity for the Baltimore Orioles. As of last notice he was residing in Lewiston, Pennsylvania. Note: I could not find a current picture of Mr. Thompson.
I am getting back to honoring the Brooklyn Dodgers that are alive so here is #12 in my list from oldest to youngest.
Don Lund then
Donald Andrew Lund was a backup outfielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers, St Louis Browns and Detroit Tigers. He was born in Detroit on May 18, 1931. He shares a birthday with my dear aunt Nora and my friend Sandi who is a St. Louis Cardinal fan.
From Baseball Reference.com:
Outfielder Don Lund earned nine letters at the University of Michigan and was also drafted by the Chicago Bears. After his playing career ended, he was a Detroit Tigers coach in 1957 and 1958. He was then the Tigers’ farm director in 1963, Scouting director in 1964, and director of player development from 1965 to 1970.
The young Lund attracted attention in 1947, a pennant-winning year for the Brooklyn Dodgers, when he went 6 for 20, slugging .700 with 2 doubles and 2 homers. He did not appear in post-season play. Lund was one of 11 players used in left field by the Dodgers that season, who never did pick a regular left-fielder in the late 1940s.
His year with the most major league at-bats was 1953, when he hit .257 in 421 at-bats with the Tigers. Al Kaline was an 18-year-old rookie that year, and the following year Kaline became a regular, while Lund was a backup.
checking the Dodgers media guide, Mr. Don Lund wore uniforms #8 #17 #25 #40. He was in 4 games in 1945, 11 games in 1947 and 27 games in 1948. He went to the Tigers in 1948.
Don Lund now.
I did not know that there is a SABR chapter called Don Lund Chapter! the Don Lund Chapter serves the Southeastern Michigan area. Very nice!
Also in 1997 SABR conference #27 in Louisville, Kentucky saw a player panel highlighted by Pee Wee Reese that also featured Ed Stevens and Don lund. Jim Bunning was the keynote speaker.
Found this book also about Don Lund:
James Robert Irwin
Saint James Books, 2009
From everything I read about Mr. Lund, he is another terrific person.
Ref: Baseballreference.com mgoblue.com, Annarbor.com
Eddie Basinski then
Basinski was born on 11/4/1922 in Buffalo, NY. He wore uniform #3 for the Dodgers.
Eddie was signed after a tryout by the Dodgers out of the University of Buffalo even though he hadn’t played baseball in either high school or College.
Eddie debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1944. He was the Dodgers regular shortstop while Pee Wee Reese was in the military in 1945 but lost his job when World War II ended an Reese returned.
According to Baseball-Refernces:
He made a prototypical rookie mistake when first coming up to the National League: hitting .389 after two weeks, he told a reporter that “Any man who can’t hit .300 in this league ought to go get a lunch bucket.” Opposing pitchers never let him live down those words.
Eddie spent the off-season as a violinist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Eddie Basinksi now
Here is a video of Portland Baseball history with Eddie Basinski and Vince Peski. Eddie tells some wonderful stories that had me cracking up.
Ad here is a another video. A wonderful interview of Eddie Baskinksi by KrisPorterSports. In there he talks about Branch Richie & Leo Durocher.
Ref: NewYorkTimes.com, Oregonlives.com, KrisPorterSports
Chuck Kress then
Charles Steven Kress was born in Philadelphia on December 9, 1921. He wore uniform #5.
Chuck Kress served in the U. S. Army from 1943 to 1945. Kress was a first baseman 17 seasons from 1940 to 1959, four in the Major Leagues and 16 in the minors.
He played first base for the Cincinnati Reds in 1947 & 1949.
With the Chicago White Sox from 1949 to 1950.
Detroit Tigers 1954.
On 06-09-1954, The Brooklyn Dodgers traded Wayne Belardi to the Detroit Tigers for Ernie Nevel, Johnny Bucha and Chuck Kress. Kress had 12 at bats with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954 and batted .083.
Kress managed the following teams in the Minor Leagues:
1957: The Erie Sailors from the New York-Pen League of the Detroit Tigers.
1958: Durham Bulls from the Carolina Leagues of the Detroit Tigers.
1959: Des Moines Demons of the Three-I Leagues of the Philadelphia Phillies
1960: Asheville Tourists of the South Atlanta League of the Philadelphia Phillies
1961: Des Moines Demons of the Three-I Leagues of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Chuck Kress now
From Kentuckybaseball.blogspot as posted on November 2, 2009:
Chuck Kress, who played with the Reds, White Sox, Tigers and Brooklyn Dodgers responded to some questions for me.
He mentioned that his favorite team is the Mariners. His favorite recent player is Edgar Martinez.
Chuck did say that he had a lot of great memories relating to his time with that legendary Brooklyn team. Mr. Kress notes that he is proud of the fact that he got to play with Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Duke Snyder, and manager Walter Austin.
He does remember playing in Louisville when he was with Columbus of the American Association.
ref: baseball-fever.com, fangraph, kentuckybaseball.blogspot, baseball-reference, OOtbaseball, WalterOMalley.com, baseball-almanac
Marvin E. Rackley then
|Marv Rackley||07/25/1921||Seneca, SC||35|
At age 19, Marv Rackley was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers organization in 1941. He played for the Valdosta Trojans, the Durham Bulls and the Dayton Ducks.
On October 5, 1942, Rackley entered the military service with the Army Air Force at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. He spent the next three years in service.
Sergeant Rackley returned to the Dodgers organization in 1946. He joined the Montreal Royals where he played alongside Jackie Robinson. Rackley batted .305 with the Royals and was in the Dodgers line-up for the second game of the season in 1947. In 18 games as a pinch-hitter and runner he batted .222 before joining the St. Paul Saints where he batted .316.
In 1948, Rackley played 88 games with the Dodgers, batted .327, but with Hermanski, Reiser, Furillo, Snider, Shuba and Whitman all vying for outfield positions there was little room for him.
On May 18, 1949, Rackley was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for first baseman/outfielder Johnny Hopp plus $25,000. Rackley reported to the Pirates with a sore throwing arm. Pirates complained they had traded for a player who was unfit. Hopp was returned to the Pirates and Rackley went back to the Dodgers (wonder what happened to the 25K) where he played in 54 games, batted .291 and appeared in two World Series games against the Yankees.
Gene Hermanski, Pee Wee Reese, Marv Rackley and Jackie Robinson, the Dodgers base stealers of 1948
In October 1949, the 28-year-old was purchased by the Reds for $60,000 but appeared in just five games the following season, spending most of the year with the Seattle Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League. He spent most of 1952 with the Birmingham Barons and joined the Baltimore Orioles of the International League in 1952. 1953 he batted .320 in 111 games with the Orioles. 1954 he batted .328 with the Richmond Virginians. He ended his career with the Atlanta Crackers in 1955 when he also managed for part of the year.
Marv Rackley now
Marv Rackley still lives in his native South Carolina. I could not find a current picture of Marv Rackley.
I just noticed this is my blog post #500 !!
|Andy Pafko||02/25/1921||Boyceville, Wi||22,48|
Andy Pafko then
During a 17-year career Andy Pafko was one of the handful of players to appear in four World Series with three different teams, the 1945 Cubs, 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers, and the 1957 and 1958 Milwaukee Braves.
Andy’s first year with the Dodgers ended on a sad note. That’s him in left field, dwarfed by the huge wall at the Polo Grounds, looking up in vain at Bobby Thomson’s pennant-winning home run off Ralph Branca. His luck changed in 1952, however, when he got into his second World Series, playing in all seven games for the Dodgers against the Yankees.
From Baseball- reference:
- 1943 MVP Pacific Coast League Los Angeles Angels
- 5-time NL All-Star (1945 & 1947-1950)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1948, 1950 & 1951)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 2 (1950 & 1951)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (1945 & 1948)
- Won a World Series with the Milwaukee Braves in 1957
Andy retired as a player after 1959 and coached for the Braves from 1960 to 1962. He began his minor league managerial career the following year, and by 1968 he had skippered teams in New York, North Carolina, and Florida for the Braves organization. He did some scouting for the Braves for a few years after that and then he his wife moved to Chicago.
Andy Pafko now
Widowed in 2002, Pafko is active at charity events, golf outings, baseball appearances and banquets, and is the 2005 President of the Chicago Old Timers Baseball Association. He attends Cubs games frequently and shuns the spotlight, but is usually hounded by fans and media. He recently found time to write the foreword for “Wrigley Field’s Last World Series: The Wartime Chicago Cubs and the Pennant of 1945,”
Ref: Baseballsavvy, baseballreference
Pat McGlothin then
|Pat McGlothin||10/20/1920||Coalfield, TN||23|
Ezra Mac “Pat” McGlothin was a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He pitched in 8 games during the 1949 and 1950 seasons. His major league debut was April 24, 1949 and his final game on April 18, 1950.
He spent time in the Minors with Mobile, St Paul and Montreal, pitching three career no-hitters in those venues. The Dodgers had 26 farm clubs in those days.
In a heroic effort, Pat pitched 19 innings in a 5-4 game, knocked in three runs including the game-winner in the bottom of the 19th, and held Ted Williams without a hit in seven tries. Pat had a hit to tie the score in the 17th before ending the contest in the 19th.
Pat McGlothin now
Pat McGlothin, owner of Mutual Insurance company has been serving customers in Tennessee since 1954. He enjoys exercising and watching baseball games.
Pat showing his collection of baseballs:
Jean-Pierre Roy Then
|Jean-Pierre Roy||06/26/1920||Montreal, Canada||34|
I went straight to SABR to read about Jean-Pierre Roy because I had read the bio project in the SABR website http://sabr.org. Rory Costello wrote this one two just like the prior one on Olmo.
What interesting lives these men have led. They played in the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and let’s not forget serving their country. If they were not holding other jobs in the offseason they were off to play elsewhere in the Winter Fall, any time!
This French-Canadian played just three big-league games in his career but he like Rory Costello says “hopscotched” around Cuba, Mexico, Brooklyn and Montreal
I would like to read more about this Mexican magnate Jorge Pasquel and his brother who raided the American leagues luring players to jump to the Mexican leagues. Roy jumped but he never played because he was not eligible. But back in Cuba, other men were. Guilty by association got him suspended from Organized Baseball in 1947.
For this “Ladies Man” it was joining and rejoining teams in Canada, US, Cuba (one of his favorite places), Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and even Panama. From this SABR Biography project at: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/154a8e59
For the 1950 summer season, Roy rejoined Hollywood, where he went 2-2, 4.09. Off the field, he was also performing for a different crowd. The suave crooner’s nightclub act included numbers in English, Spanish, and French — “things like ‘Bésame Mucho,’ which was popular at the time, and ‘La Vie en Rose.’” Jean-Pierre recalled to Ronald King in 2004, “The manager, Fred Haney, didn’t like that. So I bought back my contract and went elsewhere.” 
Even Luis Olmo then Manager in Santiago, Cuba invited him but he slipped in the dugout and hurt his elbow. He went back to Montreal where he made one last fling with the Provincial League in 1955.
from the SABR article:
In 1956, Roy did some TV broadcasting for the Royals on CBF-TV.  He’d previously noted his intention to continue his nightclub singing career. Perhaps it was on a related note that he moved to Las Vegas, where he spent roughly 10 or 11 years in jobs ranging from croupier to real-estate agent.
In 1968 when the Montreal Expos joined the National League, Jean-Pierre became an analyst on both radio and Television.
From the same SABR Biography project on Roy:
Since retiring, the elder statesman of Montréal baseball has received several honors. In July 1995, he was inducted into the Expos Hall of Fame, and the Québec Sports Pantheon did likewise that September. In April 2001, the Québec Baseball Hall of Fame followed suit.
These days Roy spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. He and his wife, Jane Duval Roy (his prior marriage ended with no children) head back north to Canada from May to October. There they live in the town of Nicolet, across the St. Lawrence from Trois-Rivières. Jean-Pierre has been working on an autobiography, and it will surely be a pleasure to hear this raconteur tell his own stories in full.
Read the rest of the Biography Jean-Pierre Roy from SABR. Is a fascinating read.
Luis Olmo Then
Jackie Robinson, Senate president of Puerto Rico, Luis Munoz Marin and Luis Olmo.
|Luis Olmo||10/11/1919||Puerto Rico||21|
I googled Luis Olmo and noticed I had an old post where I dedicated the post to Luis Olmo because my blog came in at #21 and in addition to Olmo wearing #21 it was his birthday that day. I had posted the above picture.
Luis Francisco Rodríguez Olmo known as El Jíbaro – The Hillbilly, was the second Puerto Rico to play in the Major Leagues. The first one was Hiram Bithorn who played with the Cubs in 1942.
El Jibaro played for the Dodgers from 1943 to 1945 then again in 1949. Luis Olmo became the first Puerto Rican to play in a World Series, during which he hit a home run and three hits in one game
Olmo lead the National League in triples in 1945. On May 18 of that year he hit a grand slam home run and a bases loaded triple in the same game. No other player accomplished that feat in the 20th century.
Olmo jumped to the Mexican League in 1946 because one Mexican team owner offered a higher salary than what Branch Rickey Sr. was offering. Olmo and several other jumpers were banned by MLB Commissioner Happy Chandler for going to the Mexican League. For Olmo the suspension lasted three years. Olmo returned to the Dodgers in 1949.
From the SABR bioproject by Rory Costello:
After his return in late June, Olmo got into 38 games for Brooklyn, batting .305/1/14 in 105 at-bats as he backed up Tommy Brown and Duke Snider. He got off to a hot start, getting 12 hits in his first 27 at-bats (.444), capped by a game-ending homer at Ebbets Field on July 17. Yet perhaps his most memorable contribution to the 1949 pennant winners was a sensational catch that he made at Ebbets on August 24 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Brooklyn was up 2-0 in the fifth inning, but St. Louis had the tying runs in scoring position, and at the plate was the feared batter whom Ebbets fans dubbed “The Man” – Stan Musial. Olmo, always known as a fine outfielder, needed every foot of the old ballpark’s cozy dimensions, including the extra afforded by the corrugated exit gate in left field. He leaped and made the catch, snuffing out the rally, and the Dodgers went on to win, drawing to within one game of first. Brooklyn did not overtake St. Louis until late September, but the complexion of the race might have changed if the Cards had won that day. Baseball Digest wrote up the play in August 1961, and as late as 2009, it earned an entry in a book devoted to great outfield catches, Going, Going . . . Caught!
Olmo played for the Boston Braves in 1950 & 1951. In ’51 he only played in 21 games before being sent to the Triple-A Milwaukee Brewers. There he concluded his US career.
He joined Licey of the Dominican League. The remainder of Olmo’s playin career consisted of four Winter season in Puerto Rico. He was also scouting for the Braves. He was manager for several teams in Puerto Rico. The PRWL named him Manager of the year seven times.
Luis Olmo now:
Luis Rodriguez Olmo celebrating 90 years.
from SABR biography by Rory Costello:
Olmo began playing golf since 1968 and in 2011 still got out on the links twice a week, one of the reasons he remained so fit in his 90s. At one point, though, he was carrying more weight than was good for him – he dropped 50 pounds on doctor’s orders. In August 2009, after SABR’s Puerto Rican chapter and the Museum of Sports of Guaynabo celebrated his 90th birthday, Olmo said, “I just turned 90. I hoped to reach 80 and that has passed. I am playing extra innings. And I recall as if it were yesterday when I arrived in the majors. The baseball of today is the same as what I played. The only thing that has changed is the salaries.” Four days after his 92nd birthday, I asked Luis to what he attributes his long life. He said simply, with a little chuckle, “I been lucky. Living good.”
ref: pic, Colleccion Luiz Munoz Marin, baseball-fever, http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/a26bda17